Animation on Display 2014 (Saturday, Jan 25th)

I had a blast at AoD this year. I went with my boyfriend, Ed, on Saturday only to do our panel (Magikarp: A History) and so I could enter the cosplay contest. I cosplayed as the Pokemon Ho-Oh, which I worked on on and off for over a year. We arrived some time after noon and made our way to the registration line, which was more or less nonexistent by that time, there were only two or three small groups of people in front of us. As usual, we had no idea whether we were supposed to go to the at-con registration or the preregistered line, so we went to at-con. Turns out we needed prereg, whoops. At least there was no one in the prereg line.

Once again, AoD had my boyfriend's name listed as Ricardo instead of Eduardo. It happened last year too, and we have no idea how, since we submitted our panel online, not over the phone or anything, so there's no way it could have been misheard or misread. They must have copy+pasted the list over from last year because it happened again. It wouldn't be so much of a bother if we didn't need to show ID, with matching name of course, to get our badges. The weirdest part was that his name was printed correctly in the program book.

We meandered around, getting our bearings and scoping out where our panel was going to be. We were a little disappointed to find the panel room we were scheduled for in the back, around the corner, down the hall, and kind of tiny. Also it was in an area that didn't require a badge to get into. To be fair, this was our fourth year there, the con probably figured people were getting tired of us, but at the same time, it was our fourth year, and people still aren't tired of us! We've been too spoiled doing this panel, we always get big rooms and long lines waiting for us. AoD was much more low-key, though a small line started to form for like a minute, and we had control over the lights in the room. Seriously, lighting makes a huge difference in a panel.

Anyway, I wasn't feeling very well, and my back hurt a lot, so all I really wanted to do was sit. We managed to wander through the Dealer's Hall/Artist Alley, though we didn't buy anything, and we ended up in the arcade room watching a speed run of "Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker". "Wind Waker" was probably my favorite LoZ game, and it was the first one that I completed on my own, so it has a lot of sentimental value to me. I enjoyed watching, even though I couldn't hear a word of the commentary because the room was so loud from all of the other games being played.

Photo by WinterWish Cosplay Photography
At some point, I went to check-in to the cosplay contest. The organizers, judges, and other contestants were all very, very nice! I waited for judging (there was a large group ahead of me), I briefly chatted with a couple of other cosplayers, a Pit (Kid Icarus) that I had seen getting into costume in the parking garage earlier, and her friend, Tooth (Rise of the Guardians). My judging went pretty well. I felt like I had a lot to say, but when it came right down to it, it went by pretty quickly. It would have been a lot easier if I could have said, "I made this stuff. Ask my questions about this stuff and I will tell you!" because that's more or less what ended up happening anyway. I tried to talk about everything piece by piece, but apparently if I can't see it, it doesn't exist, because i forgot about my headpiece, necklace, and phone pouch. The judges asked about the headpiece and necklace, but since the phone pouch was hidden, they had no way of knowing it as there. It's a shame, because I worked hard on it, it has a really clean zipper in it, and I even made it detachable for the sole purpose of being able to show it to the judges! Ah well.

Photo by Michael Tang
Panel time! As I mentioned earlier, we could control the lights! We really prefer to keep the lights off during our panel. At first, it was because we both have horrid, crippling stage fright, despite us both being heavily involved in theater for years. Scripted lines and choreographed pieces are one thing, talking to a hundred or so people for an hour and a half is a whole other ballgame. However, the more we did our panel, we learned, very quickly actually, that the audience behaves better when the lights are off. It creates a theater environment, which people are conditioned to be quiet in. We get a lot all people trying to heckle or argue with us mid-panel, and we get a lot fewer mind-panel questions, though that's a double-edged sword, I think. On the one hand, we answer 99% of questions in the panel, on the other hand, if there is something we don't explain well enough, we don't know until the end. Either way, it makes the panel go smoother to have the lights off, and it lets people see the projector screen better!

During the panel, I started to feel really sick and actually had to leave for a while when Ed was talking. I came back and finished out the panel, but I just got sicker and sicker. Ed and I left the convention to go find the nearest WalGreens and some painkillers. Then I took a nap in the car until I was supposed to check in for the cosplay contest. The painkillers and nap helped a lot, but I was still in a fair bit of pain until the end of the night, and "tired" doesn't even begin to describe the fatigue I felt. Luckily, my adrenaline for the contest kept be going long enough to make it through.

During the contest, I was briefly seated near both the Pit and Tooth that I had chatted with earlier before Pit had to move to a different seat to make room for her wings. I was also near a Yuuko (xxxHolic) who was very sweet. I had a pretty good time talking with Yuuko and Tooth while things were getting set up for the contest. It was a nice contrast to the last time I entered a contest and had no one to talk to since my friends that entered were seated pretty far from me and I was too shy to talk to anyone. I also had a couple of friends cosplaying from Princess Jellyfish sitting behind me that I briefly chatted with, and my friend as Elsa (Frozen) was also in the contest, but several rows behind me, so we could only hang out before we were assigned seats.

Competition was really intimidating, surprisingly so even. There was a cosplayer that goes by the name Slifer (or Sleifer? I don't know how to spell it) cosplaying as Raiden (Metal Gear) that I recognized from winning the cosplay contest at Kin-Yoobi Con. Also my friends cosplaying from Princess Jellyfish had ridiculously detailed costumes, my goodness, I could see the amount of work from across the room. There was an Attack on Titan group with a really well-choreographed and cleanly-performed dance, as well as a few other group dances from things I couldn't recognize. I had to follow the AoT group, and thank goodness I choreographed something because a walk-on would have embarrassingly paled in comparison.

I danced a combination of ballet and bellydance, which is an odd combination, but I think it came across okay. I mostly used ballet for foot movements and traveling, and bellydance was added for a graceful flourish. A couple of other contestants and friends told me it looked nice at least, but who knows what other dancers, thought haha. It might have looked awful to them. Ah well, I'll live. For music, I used a violin/dubstep remix of the Pokemon theme song. I almost used the Jhoto Journeys theme, but I really wanted to use the original since it's more recognized, and this version fit the graceful feeling I was aiming for.


After the contest was over and the judges were choosing winners, I didn't really know whether I was supposed to stay in my assigned seat or if I could leave. Staying in my seat seemed pointless, but it made sense to me at the time. Plus I didn't want to just leave the people I had been talking to like, "Oh I was only talking to you while I had no one else to talk to, bye." That would have been really rude. While I was sitting there though, I felt something on the back of my costume pop. I didn't know what or exactly where it was other than maybe it was on my belt, so I texted Ed to tell him that I needed my pants (he had them in a backpack), and then I found him in the audience and put pants on. I took off the bottom half of my costume and gently put it in the backpack. Sure enough, it was the hook on the belt that was basically holding it together that had popped off. It would have stayed up anyway, but I decided that it was Pants Time, it's more comfortable.

Poyo!
While waiting for judging, we were shown something called "Poyo Cat" (I think?). They were short episodes about a little round cat. Adorable. The short episodes made it seem like time was going slower though, each episode was between 3 and 5 mintues long, so maybe that wasn't the best choice. Also I couldn't read the captions from where I was sitting, people's heads were in the way, and since I was still fatigued and in pain, I didn't feel like stretching my neck and back and body to try to see over and around people. I missed a lot, but it was cute to look at at least. I tried to find a video of at least the opening to post here, but it's hard to come by. You can watch it on Crunchyroll, and since they sponsored AoD this year, AoD showed us. They later switched to another cat anime that I have no idea the name of, and it was then that I realized we were being shown cat videos as a distraction. Well then.

Listening to awards announcements is always hard because I don't know whether to hope my name is called or not. Since they start with the smallest awards and work upward, I kind of don't want my name called at first, but then as awards are given out, I start to worry that I haven't won anything, so I want my name called for anything just so that I get something. Good news though, I won Best Construction, which came with a cash prize and a pretty trophy! So exciting! I feel like I redeemed myself, since the last time I won anything at AoD, it was Runner-Up Best Construction. Pretty exciting stuff! Later someone I had met during the contest said that when I went on stage to accept my award, she said, "Oh my god, she's wearing pants!" Haha! My friends as Princess Jellyfish won Best in Show since their construction was amazing and they had an adorable skit. I have to wonder if I had put more effort into my performance, would I have won Best in Show? Or if I had felt better, would I have performed better and placed higher? I'm trying not to dwell on it though, it's just things that I have to think of for the next time I compete!

We went home immediately after the contest so that I could go to bed. All things considered, I still had a really, really good time at AoD 2014. The venue change wasn't ideal, mostly since there's no food nearby, and I don't think we ate all day, but we lived, and there was more space. Wish I wasn't so sick but ah well. I got a shiny trophy and made new friends!

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